Pharmaceutical industry was notoriously herdlike

“Suddenly everyone seemed to be taking Miltown. And there wasn’t any stigma associated with using the drug. You might think twice before confessing to a colleague that your doctor had put you on a course of Thorazine, but Miltown was nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it became fashionable—a party drug in Hollywood. People boasted about having a prescription. The pharmaceutical industry was notoriously herdlike, so other companies now set out to develop minor tranquilizers of their own. At Roche, Leo Sternbach’s orders were simple: invent a drug that can outsell Miltown. “Change the molecules a little,” his superiors told him. Make something different enough that we can patent it and charge a premium to sell a competing product, but not so different that we won’t be able to muscle in on Miltown’s market.”

Excerpt From: Patrick Radden Keefe. “Empire of Pain.”